Skywatchers Report

Welcome to the University of Texas Skywatchers Report for Monday March 25th through Sunday March 31st.

The moon is at third quarter on Wednesday night, so we'll start the week with a waning gibbous moon and finish with a waning crescent moon in our early morning skies.

Mars is currently the only naked-eye planet in our evening skies and is shining like an orange star in our western skies at sunset. Mars is setting at 11:45 p.m. this week.

All of the remaining naked eye planets are rising after midnight, with Jupiter leading the group at 1:35 a.m. Look for Jupiter about two degrees from the moon on Wednesday morning.

Saturn follows Jupiter and is rising at 3:25 a.m. at midweek. Look for Saturn near the moon on Friday morning.

Venus is slowly moving back towards the sun and its next conjunction and is rising at 5:50 a.m. this week.

Mercury is emerging from conjunction and is rising at 6:25 a.m. at midweek - about an hour before the sun.

In space anniversaries this week, Friday March 29 marks 45 years since the Mariner 10 spacecraft made the first flyby of the planet Mercury. In addition to being the first spacecraft to explore Mercury, Mariner 10 was also the first mission to use an interplanetary gravitational slingshot maneuver.

Public viewing at the 16-inch reflector on top of Robert Lee Moore Hall is on Wednesday nights now from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. RLM is located on the southeast corner of Dean Keeton and Speedway. Take the elevator to the 17th floor and follow the signs to the telescope.

Public viewing at the 9-inch refractor at Painter Hall is on Friday and Saturday nights currently from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Painter Hall is located on 24th street about halfway between Speedway and Guadalupe and is northeast of the UT Tower. Take the elevator to the 5th floor then take the stairs up to the 6th floor and follow the signs up to the telescope.

All events are free and open to all ages and no reservations are required. Note that viewing times and availability change throughout the year so please check the schedule before planning a visit. Observing events are weather permitting. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information, which is updated 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled viewing start time.

Thank you for calling the University of Texas Skywatchers Report.